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How to keep your Windows up to date

Most people know that Microsoft Windows has a few bugs and security holes. What they might not know, is that Microsoft is constantly releasing software patches and fixes to repair these problems as they are discovered.

A good example of this is the Blaster worm that wreaked havoc last year. This worm would tell the user that Windows had an error, then it would shut down the computer making it pretty much unusable. The Blaster worm was able to spread around quickly because of a security hole in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Though a firewall or router would have protected your computer from it, many computers are connected directly to a Cable or DSL modem and are very susceptible to this type of worm. Microsoft released a patch to repair the security hole shortly after it was discovered, but many users did not know to apply it or even how.

To keep your computer up to date with all the latest critical updates from Microsoft, you can take advantage of a feature in Windows called Automatic Updates. Due to space limits in this article, we will only look at Windows XP, though this feature is available in Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows 2000.

In Windows XP, right-click on the My Computer icon found in the Start Menu or on the desktop. When the menu appears, left-click on Properties. When the System Properties window opens, click on the Automatic Updates tab. Now check the box that says "Keep my computer up to..." and select the radio button next to "Automatically download the updates, and install them on the schedule that I specify. Note, this option is only available under Windows XP Service Pack 1. If you do not have Service Pack 1, you can install it from http://www.windowsupdate.com. Now click the okay button and you are done.

The Automatic Updates feature in Windows will keep your computer current with all the latest patches and fixes, but only if you turn it on. So spend a couple minutes and get it setup today.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 4/1/2004

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